North Korea, which a few months ago threatened to ‘invade the US,’ now claims to possess a hydrogen bomb. North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un said during a visit to the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site that the North had now become a “powerful nuclear weapons state” that was ready to “detonate self-reliant atomic and hydrogen bombs” to defend its dignity and sovereignty.
An H-bomb is the most powerful weapon on Earth
The North’s state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim Jong-Un as further saying that he would build a powerful military so that no enemy dares to provoke it. Though Pyongyang had hinted before that it had “stronger, more powerful” nuclear weapons, the dictator’s statement is the first direct reference to the hydrogen bomb.
A hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear device uses energy from a primary nuclear blast to trigger a secondary nuclear fusion in a chain reaction, resulting into a far more powerful explosion than an atomic bomb. The Soviet Union was the first country to test a hydrogen bomb in 1961. A hydrogen bomb is arguably the most powerful weapon on the planet. North Korea developed its first nuclear weapons in 2005, and tested them in 2006, 2009, and 2013.
Experts doubt North Korea’s H-bomb claims
Experts and intelligence community haven’t yet confirmed whether North Korea has indeed designed and developed an H-bomb. An official at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) told Yonhap news agency that Pyongyang is unlikely to have the scientific know-how to design a hydrogen bomb. Lee Chun-geun, a research fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Seoul, said the North “seems to be developing it.”
Kim Jong-Un’s remarks come just weeks after North Korea called for a peace treaty with South Korea and its ally, the United States, to legally end the Korean war. The North and South Korea technically remain at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a treaty. The comments about H-bomb may be Kim’s tactic to attract the US attention and re-engage in diplomacy.